Vietnamese Wedding Ceremony , The Traditional Customs with a Twist of Western Influence
BY : LAUNI, VIETNAMESE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
When I was thinking of expanding my horizon in terms of covering different types of weddings, a friend of mine introduced me to a Vietnamese couple who were soon planning to tie the knot. They were looking for a photographer + videographer to do their Vietnamese wedding.I was excited by this prospect, but my knowledge of a Vietnamese wedding was very much limited. The couple was very helpful in pointing out the important rituals and customs that made up a traditional wedding and what western influences the customs had gathered in the long run. I bet it will make an interesting reading!
Traditional Vietnamese Weddings
A Vietnamese country wedding is one of the auspicious events that brings together all families and friends. The weddings are in the brilliant hue of red and crimson and pinks, with bride and the groom attired in their traditional wedding dresses, called the ao dai.
The traditional weddings were more often arranged by parents, with or without consultation of the bride and the groom. However, present day Vietnamese marry out of love rather than following the arranged marriage system. Even though there are western influences in the weddings, most of the ancient traditions are still being followed even today.
Back in those days, the wedding used to take place in the front yard or the backyard of the bride’s house. Help used to come from all the neighbors and relatives, who stayed back for 2 days or more, until the wedding party departed. The wedding was not fixed on a weekend, but could be on any day of the week.
The groom’s family would consult a fortune-teller to determine whether this couple would live a happy life or not. If the fortune-teller gave a thumbs up, he would advise on a date and time for the wedding.
An engagement or Le an hoi ceremony usually takes place at least 6 months before the wedding. In olden days, the groom and the bride would meet on this day for the first time. However, times have changed now and this is certainly not the case anymore. However, a formal engagement ceremony is still part of the tradition.
A day before the wedding, the groom’s parents come and ask permission for the wedding from the bride’s parents. This particular custom as been abandoned these days. Back then this was done to check whether the girl was still willing to get married and to confirm the wedding itself. Now since most of the weddings are out of love, there is no question of the wedding not being held.
The day of the wedding - Le cuoi
The groom and his family start of to the bride’s place (her house) bearing gifts wrapped in red. Specific numbers of gifts are carried as some numbers are considered lucky, while some signify bad luck. The groom in modern Vietnamese wedding wears a formal suit to the wedding, while some grooms still opt for blue ao dai or royal dress. A couple who has been wedded for a long time and has been deemed happy and wealthy leads the wedding party. They represent the groom’s family. Upon arrival at the bride’s house, this couple announces their purpose and is in turn greeted by the bride’s parents.
The bride’s family greets the groom’s family and receives gifts from them. These gifts are placed in front of the altar. Vietnamese are essentially Buddhists or Catholics. In both the religions, these traditions remain the same. The only difference is that there is exchange of rings in a church in case of Catholics.
After the gift-giving ceremony, the eldest person from the groom’s side asks permission for their son to marry the bride. Another family member, usually the groom’s mother shows the jewels that they have brought in for the bride. This is followed by introduction of the groom and bride’s families to each other.
Arrival of the bride
The bride’s mother now goes and brings the bride from her room. The bride wears a red or pink ao dai,